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Europe: Eastern From Russia to Croatia, the Danube, Iron Curtain era vestiges, Pilzner beer, Czech it out! See Europe by train
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Old 12-30-2006, 09:50 PM   #1
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Default Troubles planning

Hello everyone. I'm trying to plan a trip to Eastern Europe this next spring and am having some trouble.

First of all, I've traveled a decent amount but am uncomfortable traveling alone. Well, actually I prefer to travel alone but am worried about places like Prague where train stations are hives for pick pockets. I understand that a lot of men travel alone but as a woman who has had some close calls with aggressive men, I was wondering if I could get some very frank answers about traveling alone in Eastern Europe.

Second, one of my options is a tour; however, tours don't start until the end of April in this part of the country. Does anyone know why or know of tours that begin at the end of March/very beginning of April?

I'll be seeing a travel agent soon to try and work these questions out in more detail, but I'd prefer the advice of people around my age and who have been there. Any help would be great!

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Old 12-31-2006, 06:54 AM   #2
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Hi Melissa,

I've travelled in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria as a solo female traveler... and I survived ! There isn't much more risks taking the train there than in the "Western World". Even Romania, where I was told it was very dangerous, that the Bucarest train station was so filled with pickpockets you had to watch your back all the time. And despite my spending hours in that train station a few hours, three times, even at night, nothing bad happened.

However, I did went through two moments where I felt unsafe, even once very scared, both on rural routes in Romania. Alcohol is sold on the black market in trains in Romania, so on less frequented routes, you might get stuck in alone in a compartment with drunk men, and that of course can become a problemt (in Romania and deeper Eastern Europe).

As for the night train, there is no problem in the sleeping car, and in the regular car, use a chain for your luggage.

In the train stations, yes there are pickpockets, there nothing you can do about it but to keep your valuables in a safe place. To reassure you, I've never met so far someone who was a victim of theirs.

Over all, during my six weeks there, in which I used the bus and train quite a lot, days and nights, it was very safe. Eastern Europe is great and worth seeing, and solo-female-traveler friendly ! If you go to the countryside, have a phrase book with you, because very few people can speak english.

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Old 12-31-2006, 07:27 AM   #3
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I would agree that a woman traveling solo is not particularly more at risk from pickpockets than anyone do have to be alert, but I've never had any problems.

As far as tours go, April is probably about the earliest you'll find something, because traveling to eastern Europe (or northern Europe generally) in the winter is generally not the most pleasant weather wise and most people who'd take a tour would want to wait til the better weather. But traveling solo at that time is a good option, because you'll get the off-season prices and avoid the crowds (particularly in places like Prague which are becoming increasingly busy year round, and positively swarm come summer.

Where else, besides Prague do you intend to visit?
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Old 01-01-2007, 05:43 PM   #4
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I've never been to Eastern Europe and, when you add in time constraints, I'll probably stick to Budapest, Prague, Viene, Salsburg, and Munich with some time to go on side trips whenever it sounds interesting. I'm trying not to overplan it. I'm more in central Europe, but if I have time I'd love to go farther east.

Honestly, I'm probably a little bit more paranoid than your average person, but I try to temper that with facts and information, so your experiences and advice are very helpful. I definately prefer to go without someone holding my hand along the way, but I'm just exploring different options. If I go on a tour this time, I'll be back to explore by myself in the future. Thanks guys!
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Old 01-06-2007, 09:22 AM   #5
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Every person that told me they got pickpocketed said the same thing.

They were in a crowd (bus, subway, tourist area)
They were distracted
They had their wallet in an easily accessible location

I carried a dummy wallet in my front pocket and never had a problem. BUT! you do need to keep a finger on it in casual situations and in train/bus stations grip it with your hand.

Pickpockets aren't magicians, they just look for someone who is distracted and won't notice a little quick theft. If you look alert, they will zero in on someone who does not.

BTW on a train to Budapest from Munich someone tried to break into our car (our Romanian train conductor warned us that might happen) so yes bring a lock and chain.

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